Vocational skills honed at John Gray

John Gray High School students are getting vocational skills to help equip them for the work place.

‘There has always been a strong core of applied courses offered at Government high schools; even more so because we have expanded and upgraded on these subjects,’ ‘ said Jim Baker, the Department of Education’s head of curriculum studies.

‘When students leave high school they have all the necessary skills to join the workforce as an apprentice, or to further their skills at the University College of the Cayman Islands or other institution of their choice.’

But he said the community should place value on skilled jobs.

‘We need to value vocational studies as highly as we do other jobs, especially today with the present economic situation.

‘Traditionally or maybe two decades ago most parents aspired to white collar jobs, but what we are seeing today is, there is less security in those jobs.’

He said there is money to be made in vocational jobs.

‘While white collar jobs may be disappearing, there will always be someone needed to fix a pipe, replace a light bulb or fix a tire,’ he said

Students get hands-on experience and theory in applied studies, such as construction, mechanics, electrical, textiles, cooking, architecture and tourism in well equipped workshops, he said.

The studies are open to both boys and girls.

Year 12 student Wendy Torres participates in a mechanics course and is learning to repair a car engine. ‘Most people never expected me to take a course in mechanics, but so far I love it,’ she said.

On the practical side of mechanics, teacher Barrington Griffith introduces students to tools, parts and chassis components to carry out repairs on automobiles. Teacher Roy McLaughlin coaches students in theory.

In construction, students are learning to design and construct homes from the foundation to the roof.

‘Usually students work on a real building but because of lack of space, students work on scaled down models,’ said Mr. Chin Sinn, head of vocational technology.

Electrical is also offered in practical lessons and theory to students.

Tourism courses, which have specifically been rewritten for the Cayman Islands and focus on the cruise ship industry and tourist attractions is also a part of vocational studies, `said Mr. Baker.

‘On top of that, students also get on-the-job training,’ he said.

Mr. Baker said the school also plans to add graphics to the vocational studies.

‘There is something offered for everyone to have some skills when they leave high school,’ he said.

‘We want young people to have the ability as trained young Caymanians to fill these posts. A vast majority of people who come to these islands want and expect to see Caymanians in these jobs – so it is important that we train young Caymanians to project that image.’